The last two decades have seen a dramatic shift in the way we work. The workplace is changing as we now have more part-time workers as work-life integration becomes a necessity for many due to shifting lifestyle patterns. There is now more demand for working arrangements in which employees can spend fewer hours in the office, supplemented by an upsurge in flexible and dynamic working. There has also been a shift in the workplace tools that we use. The reliance on paper-based systems has diminished and we have firmly moved into the digital age. 

Here, we look at five technological breakthroughs that are revolutionising the office.

1. Cloud Technology

Cloud-based technology has streamlined the way we work by offering a vast amount of flexibility and security. Cloud-based tech offers businesses a chance to upscale or downscale regular back-ups and recovery solutions, depending on their needs. It gives a lifeline to businesses that struggle with bandwidth. Businesses can also benefit from better collaboration and sharing of documents by allowing employees to work on the same document from anywhere in the world. This saves time and provides wider scale document control. Cloud technology’s competitive market means that smaller businesses can be served as well as larger ones.

2. Big Data

The more data a business has at its disposal, the more it can do. Acquiring a constant stream of big data is dependent on having access to a reliable computer network. With the right big data analysts at your disposal, you can explore different variables for particular points in time throughout the year to decipher customer trends to help different areas of your marketing strategy. Big data can be used to offer faster solutions when aligned with AI and machinery, and also within this, it can find new relationships. For example, by utilising big data within the medical and pharmaceutical field, medicines on the market were found to have dual benefits, helping new and different sets of patients.

3. Wireless technology

Wireless networking has changed the face of the office in quite a visual way by allowing for the minimisation of lengthy cables. The technology allows employees to be plugged in from anywhere within their workplace and enables teams to work together much more collaboratively.

Faster sharing and faster updates to documents boost productivity. Wireless systems allow workers to do their job better, increase the usage of mobile devices like phones and tablets and those workers are able to share, and update documents. Not only from domestic locations, but global ones too. A wireless office leads to a reduction in paperwork and an all-round cleaner office space.

4. Video-based technology

Whether for interviews or cross-office communication, the reliance on video technology is growing fast. A lack of office space has undoubtedly helped the surge in its popularity because participants can attend a global video conference meeting without leaving their desks. Office spaces are becoming marginalised and the popularity of video continues to grow as a key selling point to combat this. Rich visual communication via a slew of software products enriches the end-user experience. Video training content has begun to eradicate the need for on-site trainers, once the mainstay of the office culture, and directly ties in with the development of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

5. Virtual and Augmented Reality

VR and AR are two different mediums that complement each other very well. An easy differentiator is that AR works with objects in the real world, while VR operates in an artificial world. From a business perspective, both AR and VR have the ability to tap into the sensory and emotional area of the brain. This has seen a number of companies, e.g. Google, invest in Daydream, its mobile VR tech, and, BT Sport broadcast the UEFA 2016-17 Champions League Final on 360 VR giving the user the chance to experience being in the actual stadium. Imagine a conference being held in Birmingham and those who can’t make it in person, attend via VR. They’d receive an immersive experience whereby they could look around the entire venue and get data pointers as the key speakers address the audience. VR is already being used in video-based training, where one instructor can reach a global class. Closely tied in with this is AR and business cards using AR tech are already in circulation. Projection based augmented reality uses data based on your location and is widely used now by smartphones. The technology is also primed to make headway in areas such as manufacturing, where instructions to product improvements can be superimposed over the product while employees work. This is called superimposition-based augmented reality and reduces stoppage times while increasing productivity. 

These tech breakthroughs are revolutionising the workplace, allowing us to become more streamlined and collaborative. Productivity is increasing too and employers now require specific digital skill sets to cope with this change.